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As I dance with the decade known as my thirties, I find that my number one skincare priority has shifted. No longer am I burdened by hormonal breakouts (shoutout to spironolactone). My chief concern is how to firm my skin at home, in order to maintain my complexion’s texture and elasticity. I basically want you to be able to throw cooked spaghetti at my face and have it bounce right back off. That’s a mixed metaphor, but it still paints a mental picture of supple, bouncy skin.
My career as a beauty editor has led me to amalgamate a decade’s amount of skin wisdom from top dermatologists with my own personal experience. I’ve functioned as a beauty guinea pig, testing the thousands of products that arrive on my desk. Unfortunately, you’re probably going to balk at my advice, because it’s not fun at all: Forget the 10-step skincare routine, put down the cute packaging and drop your coins on active, proven ingredients.
You will find that most truly efficacious products come in unsexy yet airtight containers, which keep their powerful ingredients potent for as long as possible. You will also find that these products command a much higher price tag than your average impulse buy, and they don’t smell like rose petals mixed with kitten feet. However, if you choose to eschew superfluous products in lieu of performance-based ones, you might find that your overall beauty budget will benefit—and your skin will look as fantastic as possible.
Doctors agree with me. “For firm skin, I recommend looking for products that contain growth factors and peptides. Growth factors are essential as they trigger collagen and elastin production which are essential to the skin’s matrix,” says Dr. David Shafer, of Shafer Clinic Fifth Avenue. “Peptides are amino acids that make up the building blocks of our skin which are also necessary for skin structure.” Beyond the gold standards of skincare—wearing daily sunscreen and retinol (prescription or not)—these are the ingredients and tools that are scientifically proven to firm your skin.
Without further ado, my time-honed advice for maintaining your skin’s firm factor for the long haul. Oh, and they’re all on MAJOR sale for Prime Day.
Play the long game with growth factors
Yes, this serum is expensive, but it’s one of the few topical products worth the sticker price: it boasts natural growth factors that spur skin to act and look younger. I’ve been using it for years, and my skin is consistently heralded with compliments. My own testimony aside, it’s one of the most doctor-endorsed products around. “SkinMedica’s groundbreaking research resulted in a formula comprised of naturally occurring growth factors (proteins), cytokines, antioxidants and matrix proteins that are responsible for healing the skin, and naturally boost the skin’s ability to rejuvenate itself,” says Dr. Shafer. Even though growth factors work over time to repair skin at a cellular level, I notice my skin looks younger and fresher within a few days of use.
Apply peptides overnight for instant gratification
Combining growth factors with peptides provides the ideal one-two punch against sagging skin. Peptides are chains of amino acids that signal your skin to create new collagen, which is a very important structural protein for your skin. You may have heard of the ingestible collagen craze with its gummies and drink mixes, but there is actually zero research that proves that ingested collagen travels to your skin cells and fosters skin firmness. Zero. The best way to reap the benefits of collagen (other than a healthy diet) is to signal your skin to produce more of it with topical peptides. This silky overnight mask from Elemis acts like spackle for your skin. I wake up with glowy and plump skin in the morning, even after I’ve imbibed too many glasses of Sambuca.
Micro-needle one to two times a week
The benefits of micro-needling are twofold: first, poking tiny holes into your epidermis spurs skin to repair itself, sending fresh collagen and elastin to the surface. Secondly, micro-needling after applying a skincare product (such as the serums above) with active ingredients helps those ingredients penetrate deeper into your skin. If you’re forking over the cash for premium ingredients, you want to be absolutely certain you’re getting the maximum absorption and mileage out of them. While micro-needling may look scary, it’s not in the slightest, as long as you purchase a derm-approved tool laced with either stainless steel (more affordable) or gold-plated needles (less affordable) to assure cleanliness. I don’t always remember to microneedle my skin, but I try to do it at least once a week. Whenever I do, my skin looks firmer and more even by the very next morning.
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